Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 9:16am
FCC: CABLE SUBJECT TO VNR IDs
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
The Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau confirmed that it believes cable operators are subject to FCC sponsorship-identification rules. That came Monday in a proposed $4,000 fine against cable operator Comcast for allegedly violating those rules in airing portions of a video news release as part of programming it originated -- in this case a VNR for a sleep aid as part of a "consumer issues" segment. Comcast argued that the rules applied to broadcasters, not cable operators, but the FCC said its rules clearly state that "when a cable-television-system operator engages in origination cablecasting, it must identify the sponsor of a material whenever that operator accepts money, service or other valuable consideration” to air that material." Comcast's fallback position was that even if the rule did apply, the VNR did not violate it because Comcast didn't pay anything to air it. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau pointed to a caveat in that rule that says that it still has to identify program material for which it was not compensated unless the material is an "identification in a broadcast of any person, product, service, trademark or brand name beyond an identification which is reasonably related to the use of such service or property on the broadcast." The proposed fine, the baseline for the violation, came in response to a complaint filed by Free Press.
* Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein made the following statement in response:
"I applaud the Media Bureau's decision to enforce our sponsorship identification rules, and to propose, for the first time, a forfeiture for the failure to disclose the sponsor of a video news release. Commission rules are clear: viewers have a right to know who is trying to persuade them so they can make up their own minds about what they are presented. I applaud Chairman Martin's leadership, and look forward to quick action on the many other pending video news release complaints."
* FCC hits Comcast with fake news fine
* Free Press release
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